Tuesday's NHL: Microchipped ‘tracking’ pucks pulled 6 days into season
The NHL is temporarily ditching microchipped pucks six days into the season after concerns were raised about their performance.
The league announced games from Tuesday night on would be played with pucks made for last season. A review showed the first supply of pucks used for tracking weren’t finished the same way as those from the playoffs, when player and puck tracking made its debut in the conference finals.
The first 44 games this season were played with the “tracking” pucks that players and coaches could tell were a little off.
“I was aware that the NHL was using a different puck,” Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “I thought a couple times it didn’t slide as well on the ice. We didn’t know if that was the puck or the ice surface.”
Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said off-hand Monday, “These pucks are bouncing everywhere.”
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said before the season that all 31 arenas were equipped with the necessary puck and player technology. Player tracking will continue.
The NHL expects new tracking pucks to be available soon and put back into play after undergoing testing.
“I’m sure that they’ll figure it out here,” Vigneault said. “It’s early in the season, and they’ll do the right thing.”
Puck and player tracking has been in the works for years as a way to provide additional data, enhance broadcasts and add another element of hockey for bettors to gamble on. So far, TV has been the only home for that information with NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood saying the network was “all in” on trying to capitalize on the technology and translate it for viewers.
It’s unclear exactly when puck tracking will return or when stats like players’ skating speed will be available to the public.
“We’ll continue to work with our partners in terms of the information rollout and the uses of the information,” Daly said last week. “I think that’ll continue to develop over the course of this season. But sitting here right now, I couldn’t give you exact timelines.”
The NHL has postponed its first game since the league’s season began, calling off Tuesday night’s game between Carolina and the Predators hours after the Hurricanes won the first of a two-game set in Nashville.
“The decision was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts,” the league said.
The NHL did not specify which team prompted the postponement, though four Hurricanes players were added to the COVID-19 list Tuesday. The NHL already postponed the start of the Dallas Stars’ season after six players and two staff members tested positive for the virus.
Hurricanes players Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jaccob Slavin and Teuvo Teravainen joined captain Jordan Staal on the unavailable list because of COVID-19 protocols. Staal had been on that list since Friday, with the Hurricanes losing at Detroit on Saturday then winning 4-2 at Nashville on Monday in that span.
Nashville had forward Mikael Granlund and defenseman Luca Sbisa on the unavailability list Jan. 13 and 14 with the Predators claiming Sbisa off waivers from Winnipeg on Jan. 12. Granlund has remained on the list. He arrived Jan. 15 from Finland and currently is in quarantine.
No new Predators players were added to the list.
Avalanche deal Cole
Colorado and Minnesota swapped veteran defensemen, with the Avalanche acquiring Greg Pateryn and the Wild receiving Ian Cole.
The trade represents a significant salary-cap savings for Colorado from Cole’s $4.25 million hit to Pateryn’s $2.25 million. It also frees up a spot on the left side of the blue line for 19-year-old Avalanche prospect Bowen Byram.
“The trade really works for them and the trade really works for us,” Wild general manager Bill Guerin said. “And that’s what’s most important, I think, in making deals is you make a fair deal.”
The 30-year Pateryn had two assists in three games for the Wild this season. Cole, who turns 32 in February, didn’t register a point through two games.
Since being selected in the fifth round of the 2008 draft by Toronto, Pateryn has four goals and 37 assists over 270 career games with Montreal, Dallas and Minnesota. He had a career-high 12 assists in ‘17-18 with the Stars.
“Greg is a strong, veteran defenseman who plays a heavy game,” Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said in a statement. “He’s a hard-nosed, competitive player who can kill penalties, block shots and brings some additional grit to our back line.”
Cole had a career-high 22 assists last season for Colorado. He also had 83 hits and 122 blocked shots in 65 games during the 2019-20 season.
A first-round pick by St. Louis in 2007, Cole has 26 goals and 112 assists in 543 games with the Blues, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Colorado. He won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles with Pittsburgh in ‘15-16 and ’16-17.